Darfield High School principal James Morris

Call for more care

by Mike Isle

A local high school principal is calling on motorists to take more care when passing school buses after a number of close calls near his school.

Darfield High School principal James Morris said cars going past stationery school buses above the 20km/h speed limit were putting children’s lives at risk.

“We have had a number of close calls near Darfield High School buses. The latest was in the final term last year.

“The Malvern Schools bus network has about 20 buses out every day working on mostly open roads. 80% of Darfield High School students come to school by bus and so are waiting and walking by those roads too.

Although slowing to 20km/h as you pass a bus might seem an unnecessary inconvenience, children at times make poor judgments around roads, and so drivers need to be prepared to stop quickly,” Mr Morris said.

Mr Morris said that he would also like police to be a little more proactive over the issue.

“Generally [the police] are doing a good job, but a bit of a reminder from police now and then would be a useful strategy,” he said.

Police say that rather than handing out infringement notices, they were taking an educational approach to remind motorists to slow down past school buses. “That approach will continue for the foreseeable future,” Senior Sergeant Pete Stills said.

“There’s a lack of understanding of the requirement to reduce speed when passing a school bus. The road code states that when driving past a stationary school bus, vehicles in both directions must reduce their speed to no faster than 20km/h.”

Sergeant Stills said the 20km/h limit is in place because of the unpredictability of children.

The slower speed reduced the risk of injury, he said.